Davine Arckens was only sure of one thing; she wanted to see the world. By age 24, she was already a seasoned traveler. After backpacking her way through China, Guatemala, and South Africa, the Belgium native headed to Australia on a 1-year working visa. She assured friends and family that aside from a few dangerous animals, Australia was safe.
It turned out Davine had one especially dangerous animal to fear: a seemingly innocent family man living a double life.
In February 2017, Davine posted an ad on Gumtree looking for work. A man who called himself “Max” offered her a job rearing baby calves on his farm two hours outside of Adelaide. He told Davine there were plenty of other women working on the farm and even offered to pick her up from a bus depot in Murray Bridge.
When Davine got off the bus, Max was waiting for her as promised. Using backroads, he took a longer, 2-hour route to the farm in an effort to make Davine believe it was in a remote area. When they arrived, he lured her into a feces-covered pig shed, containing only a broken fridge, and a sofa bed.
It didn’t take long for Davine to realize that there was no job. Within seconds, Max was on top of her, digging a gun into her spine. He claimed he was part of a large sex trafficking ring, that the police were in on it and that he would kill her if she put up a fight.
Max told the terrified woman there was nowhere to hide, and no one to hear her screams for miles. In reality, the home where he lived with his family was right next door, and the local police station was just down the road.
But, Davine didn’t any know that. In her mind, she was all alone.
Max chained her to a grate, keeping one leg and one arm free. Before joining his unsuspecting family for dinner next door, the man sexually assaulted Davine multiple times.
Once she was alone in the shed, Davine realized Max had left her backpack behind. Inside was her laptop and a Wi-Fi stick.
Using her free arm, Davine picked up a metal hook lying next to the fridge and unchained herself. With one eye on the door, she grabbed her laptop and sent Facebook messages to anyone who was online.
Luckily, Davine’s friend and fellow backpacker, Echo Wang, was scrolling through her phone when her message popped up on the screen. She told Davine to stay calm and quickly called Queensland Police.
Fearing Max would return any moment, Davine chained herself back up and waited for help to come.
The police tracked Davine’s phone and by early the next morning, she could hear the sound of planes circling above, searching for her.
Fearing he was about to get caught, Max released Davine from her shackles and checked her into a motel. He rushed home, shaved his head, and attempted to wipe the shed clean of all evidence.
An officer spotted Davine near the motel and took her to the police station where she shared gory details of her 48-hour long captivity. She led officers to the farm where they arrested 54-year-old Gene Charles Bristow, a father of four, in front of his shocked family.
Gene was charged with aggravated kidnapping, rape, and indecent assault. He denied the allegations and insisted Davine had invented the story for financial gain. Of course, the evidence said otherwise.
The chains used to shackle the backpacker was found dumped in a nearby well, her phone was found in a water tank, and the gun, which turned out to be a replica purchased off eBay, was found dumped in a nearby field. The shed was also covered with Davine’s DNA.
Gene was ultimately convicted and sentenced to 18 years in prison. He lost an appeal in 2020 and continues to send letters to his family pleading his innocence. His son, David Bristow, says that the man he once looked up to is dead to him, and he hopes his father rots in hell.
‘I was locked in chains, held against my will and had to endure things that nobody should have to endure…He took everything from me. Not only did he take my clothes and belongings, but also my freedom, my mind and my family…It’s a very important message for me to come back and face how it was because you don’t want anyone to ruin the rest of your life. Then for me, it would feel like he won and I don’t want that at all.” — Davine Arckens
Sources: Backpacker kidnapped and shackled in abandoned pig shed by madman | 60 Minutes Australia — YouTube, Backpacker, 24, shackled and raped in pig shed escaped after posting cries for help on Facebook — The Sun, Backpacker cries as she details ordeal at hands of alleged rapist in ‘dirty pig shed’ — ABC News, Backpacker who was kidnapped and raped on Australian farm used Facebook to raise alarm | World News | Sky News
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